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There is a reason for that and unfortunately, at least in America, we are so busy, so driven, so pressed to get things done, that napping and sleeping often fall to the wayside.
To me, a good nap is 10-30 minutes long and guess what?! This falls into industry standards of the proper time length for a nap. I often aim for the shorter naps (15-20 minutes tops) but I was happy to know I was on target with length even if a nap happens once in a blue moon.
Naps can be categorized as planned, emergency, or habitual. I am the emergency napper. "Darling, I need to catch a few z's right now or I am going to collapse!" Planned napping is just like it sounds. You schedule it into your day. Hmmm….maybe a 20 minute nap today at 2:00 pm? OK! It is on my schedule. Habitual napping happens each day, same time, same place, kinda like those nap schedules you tried to have with your kiddo's when they were young. Oh how I miss those days! I would either nap or run on the treadmill while darling slumbered.
Naps can improve alertness and performance but don't go too long or they will leave you groggy and may negatively impact your sleep performance that night.
But are they any other benefits to napping?
Yes! Napping can improve your memory, prevents burnout and information overload, heightens your senses and creativity, improves your mood, and improves your health as when you sleep your body releases growth hormone. This boosts your immune system and is a natural combatant to cortisol, or your stress hormone. Growth hormone also aid in muscle recovery and that is good news for runners. Hey, it may even increase your running performance!
Click HERE to learn about factors that impact running performance.
Some argue that longer naps are acceptable for certain reasons, such as resting your mind for a test, but please, don't nap too close to bedtime. You need at least 3 hours of awake time post nap to get a good night's sleep too.
Personally, I do not like long naps. They mess with me so I guess I am the "caffeine boost" energizing 15 minute napping type of gal. I wonder what darling daughter will think if I become a habitual napper?
"Mom, you are so boring!"
Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for my occasional naps.
Daily Bible Verse: And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. ~ Mark 6:31
I love science and try to look for good solid proof to support my ideas. I had many ideas of things that could be impacting my performance but what could I do, or should I do, to turn things around?
In a nutshell, I researched a multitude of my thoughts starting with alcohol. You can read more about alcohol and running HERE and yes, alcohol consumption can impact your running performance but the thing is, I didn't drink that much. And when I stopped, my running pace remained the same although I do sleep better and have less stuffiness without alcohol. Those are two good things. I won't go deep into the effects in alcohol on your body as I recently blogged about alcohol and running.
Sleep quality also impacts running performance as sleep is when your body heals and refreshes itself especially during the deep sleep and REM phases. And yes, with early wake-up times I was getting less hours of sleep but with no alcohol, etc. my sleep quality is improving. Less hours but better quality sleep. My FitBit helps me monitor this and even though some days I wonder if sleep is a factor, over the grand scheme of months of decreased performance, I can't blame sleep.
Heat also impacts running performance. The higher the temperature, the more you can expect your pace to decrease. I blamed this while I was in Texas this summer running but once back on Maui, to the temps I am used to, and still experiencing the same sluggish pace, heat obviously was not my issue.
Weight impacts running performance. Sorry it does but even though I have gained a few pounds over the past months, I am pretty much at the same weight I have been for years. I tend to fluctuate between 118-125 pounds so I don't think I can say, lose a few and get your pace back. Plus, I feel this is my healthy weight as I always gravitate back to it even when a few times it has dipped down to 110-115 and I am happy with my range as way back when I was in college, I was much heavier. I am in a good place and thankful but for those who want more weight details here is a chart on how weight loss can impact your pace.
Please note, as the race distance increases, your BMI (body mass index) comes into greater play but yet, this still did not seem to be the reason for my decline.
What about nutrition? I eat well but am dairy free. Is there something there that could be coming into play? My routine physicals are coming back good and in range but one thing that was not checked in my past physical was my Vitamin D levels and this is something I have been low in during the past and something I do not supplement well on a regular basis. And believe it or not, Vitamin D at adequate levels can improve your running performance. It can be found naturally in tuna, eggs, and soy milk - three things I consume on a regular basis so I feel I may be okay but I did start trying to take my Vitamin D on a more regular basis.
After crossing thing after thing off my list I had to face the fact I was trying not to face.
Perimenopause is something I have blogged about and pondered over four years ago. You can read that post HERE but with that in mind, it is something worth taking seriously so let's talk about it a bit more today.
Perimenopause can last up to 10 years and the average age of menopause for women in the US is 51. Ladies, that means you can be venturing into perimenopause at age 41! Ironically, that is about how old I was when I first blogged about it. The good news is running is good for you during this time of transition and it can help mitigate hot flashes. Yay! And I got to say, hot flashes are not an issue for me. But the decrease in estrogen does not only trigger hot flashes but also insomnia, weight gain, headaches, anxiety, and depression. You already know from sentence one of this post that some of those fit me perfectly...and FYI, I am battling a headache as I type this post.
You are also more sensitive to heat, need to protect your bones with essential Calcium, watch your Vitamin D levels, and be aware that muscle mass can decrease. I am hoping my over one year commitment to added cross training and weight training is helping with keeping my muscle mass intake and just recently bit the bullet and bought a daily multi-vitamin formulated for women that has calcium, Vitamin D, iron, and other important nutrients in it to ensure I am getting what I need on a dairy free diet. I am also trying to ascertain if there are some dairy items my body can tolerate as I like natural best.
I would like to say after all this research I found the golden ticket to get my pace back to what I loved but my golden ticket may not be what I or you want to hear. It may just be, ready or not, that I am getting older. Yes, my age. YIKES! My research ended on Runner's World Age Grade Calculator and yes, I input my race/running times and guess what --- according to the results, I am running the same adjusted pace compared to me in the past and in all reality, I am running a few seconds faster.
This was a sobering revelation. I do believe in continual growth but also realize we all have our max performance limits and this may change over time. Trying to go beyond your max performance may just beat you up and rob you of your running joy. I want my running joy. I love my cross training joy. I have so many ways to grow and so much to give and I will remind myself over and over and over again, I am not defined by a number whether that number be my age, the number on a scale, or the number related to my pace, or the number of miles I have run. I am more than a number and so are you.
Daily Gratitude: No matter the pace, I am thankful for running today on day 2115 of my running streak. Now that is a number I can be proud of!
Daily Bible Verse: Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. ~ Proverbs 3:3-8
October 7 was a special day to me. Not only was it my birthday, my 45th to be exact, it is the feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary and the day I celebrated my consecration to Mary.
To many this may be confusing. Hey, it was confusing to me at first. Consecrate myself to Mary? What does that mean? Isn't Jesus my savior? Wouldn't this be wrong?
But after some initial spiritual guidance from a priest I trust (Mahalo Father Matthew Spencer), I decided this would not be pulling me away from Christ but possibly towards a better place in my faith journey. Under his guidance, I opted for the 33 Days to Morning Glory to guide my journey and happily it is available and affordable via Amazon.
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I was eager to begin my faith journey but also weary. Will I be able to fit in what I am supposed to do every day on top of everything else I am aiming to do each day? Well, it was actually pretty easy and my daily reading followed my daily bible reading and I tried my best to ponder the messages and prayers throughout the day. Some days were better than other days but hey, I am a work in progress and this is something I intend to return to and renew each year. And like bible verses, I hope messages will pop out differently to me each year.
Things that stuck out to me this year is this is something not to be feared as amazing people such as Saint Mother Teresa and Saint Pope John Paul II followed this method of faith formation. I am not one to argue with a saint and by golly, Saint Mother Teresa pulls at my heartstrings in so many ways. The darkness she felt, the tenderness she gave, the complete devotion to doing Jesus' will, and the complete devotion to Mary and her tender heart.
The more I studied the more I realized, Jesus did give his mother to us to help us, to guide us, to take care of us. We all need all the help we can get! And ironically, just the other weekend my parish priest (not the same priest who gave me the initial direction) talked about Mary and how we all should behold her because without Mary there would be no Jesus and without Jesus, no salvation. Yikes!
But personally, one thing that always stood out to me about Mary was her complete and amazing faith during her life and struggles. I know it could not have been easy for her but yet she never caved. I need that strength! And she guided all to follow her son's will, Jesus' will, not hers.
If nothing else, just following her example can set us all on a better course in humanity and charity. To be kind, loving, patient, charitable no matter what.
I ended my journey with the following consecration day prayer:
I, ___________________________ , a repentant sinner, renew and ratify today in your hands, O, Immaculate Mother, the vows of my Baptism. I renounce Satan and resolve to follow Jesus Christ even more closely than before.
Mary, I give you my heart. Please set it on fire with love for Jesus. Make it always attentive to his burning thirst for love and for souls. Keep my heart in your most pure Heart that I may love Jesus and the members of his Body with your own perfect love.
Mary, I entrust myself totally to you: my body and soul, my goods, both interior and exterior, and even the value of all my good actions. Please make of me, of all that I am and have, whatever most pleases you. Let me be a fit instrument in your immaculate and merciful hands for bringing the greatest possible glory to God. If I fall, please lead me back to Jesus. Wash me in the blood and water that flow from his pierced side, and help me never to lose my trust in this fountain of love and mercy.
With you, O Immaculate Mother - you who always do the will of God - I unite myself to the perfect consecration of Jesus as he offers himself in the Spirit to the Father for the life of the world.
The book offers various forms of this prayer and you can pick the form that fits you best. The thing is, it isn't so rigid you need to do x, y, and z only but gives you great guidance and insight to be a better you and grow closer to Jesus and increase your faith. That is good, y'all, very, very good.
And my yearning quest to say a rosary daily --> it is finally happening with much more ease than ever before. I have found that "magic" moment/way that works best for me and I firmly attest that this journey, this consecration path, this devotion to keep Mary's loving heart in my own heart, to love better, to live better, to be better, is that "magic" key I needed.
Daily Bible Verse: When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. ~ John 19:26-27
Daily Gratitude: I am thankful to Immaculate Heart Radio (now Relevant Radio) to being my guide and beacon to growing faith.